Publication date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Imagine you are driving in the car with your family. It’s dark and the atmosphere in the car is tense. Things haven’t been good with them for a while now, especially after the traumatic death of your mom. You doze off and embrace the music that’s coming from the radio, reveling in the familiar sounds of the song that’s playing. Your eyes close and you sink deeper into sleep, when suddenly you’re jolted away as your shoulder bumps into the car door.
You notice that your dad has turned down a long drive where a beautiful hotel sits at the end, lit up like a crown jewel. “We’re here,” you dad says, as the valet comes to help you with your bags. The hotel is majestic, and slowly, your tension begins to fade away. The ornate lobby features guests milling around, some seem to be heading to a party in the ballroom to the right. You thoughts are interrupted by the concierge, who has suddenly appeared to the check-in desk to assist your family. He’s creepy and you immediately dislike him as he places you in a room on the 13th floor.
You head up in the elevator and when the door opens, you’re struck by the deafening silence that greets you. Is there anyone else on this floor? As you slide your key in the lock, you notice music coming from one of the rooms in the hall. You can’t quite place the song, but it’s so familiar that it causes you to pause before entering the room. Something is off… but again, you can’t quite place it. What time is it? The thought strikes you out of no where and you brush it off as you get in bed to sleep.
The next morning you reunite with your dad and your brother. That sense of off-ness has returned, even though nothing seems to be out of place around you. Your dad seems happy, which is unusual, and actually seems interested in your lives for once, especially since the death of your mom. He suggests that you stay another night, maybe two. Something’s wrong, but what? That’s when the waitress approaches with your food. She’s brought out a dish you didn’t order and sets it in front of you. That’s when you notice the gaping wound in her side, blood staining her white work shirt. Terror and shock blurs your vision and makes your ears ring. Why has no one else noticed?? You look in the waitresses face to warn her, since she seems to be oblivious to the wound in her side. When you look back down, the gash is gone, her shirt as white and crisp as snow. What the hell!? The waitress, who noticed your reaction, asks, “are you alright?” No… no I’m not.
This is my attempt at conveying the overall feel of this paranormal horror novel to you, dear reader. I will be the first to acknowledge that you’re either going to respond to this book, or you’re not. I happened to really respond to Hotel Ruby because I found it subtly terrifying and very creepy. It’s psychological in its slow build, small creepy details, and a very ominous feeling that runs throughout the narrative. You know something is coming, but can’t quite arrive at it, which is very much like the journey of the main character, Audrey Casella.
I found Audrey to be a perfectly likable heroine. She’s not perfect and even in her darkest moments, you’re able to sympathize with her emotions, her mistakes, and her choices. She’s also curious, has a healthy sense of rebellion, and absolutely loves her family; all of these attributes interpreted a character that was strong in spite of her flaws. While I think she could have been developed a little deeper, for the 290 pages that we are given, the author is successful in creating a well-rounded heroine. As she gets to know the staff of the hotel, her romance with Elias was completely understandable, if not a slightly insta-lovey. Audrey knows what she wants, though, and I believe she sees that in Elias, even though being with him means accepting something she never thought she’d encounter.
What Suzanne Young does so well with this book is the setting and overall atmosphere that she hangs over you as you read. Which is why I chose to start my post the way I did. Young’s narrative and visual imagery is stunning and you are immediately curious to discover the secrets of the hotel. The hotel itself is a character (quite literally). I won’t go into too much detail about that because there are spoilers involved, but as Audrey peels back the layers of the hotel’s past, the things she discovers are terrifying. You’re not sure if the hotel is a positive or negative force until the very end.
For me, the most powerful undercurrent running through Hotel Ruby was the theme of life, death, and redemption. Each character, especially the heroine, has a sad story that accompanies their past. As Audrey slowly reveals each person’s story, the plot grows more and more ominous. I loved that! Audrey is torn to pieces about the sudden death of her mother. No one saw it coming, and she hasn’t been able to shed the horror and sadness that was left in her mother’s place. So when Audrey is able to find that internal acceptance, it’s a powerful moment, and I was thrilled to see Audrey chose her own path and her own ending, even if its shocking to us as the reader. This book has a very unorthodox ending, and that’s where I think many readers will get hung up.
Have you read Hotel Ruby? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or tweet me @elisereneem! Happy Monday!
ARC PROVIDED TO ME BY THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. HOTEL RUBY IS PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 3RD, 2015 BY SIMON PULSE.